What if you could go to the dentist and NOT feel the shot? Impossible, you say?
What if your dentist could numb a single tooth while working on it, versus the current technique which often numbs a group of teeth or half your face?
What if you could avoid the lingering mouth numbness that often follows dental appointments?
Believe it or not, all of the above are possible with some recently improved technology called single tooth anesthesia (STA). You have to not feel it to believe it.
To understand STA, we first have to understand why shots cause pain. With today’s topical anesthetics that numb the surface of the tissue, the actual poke of the needle is rarely felt. The pain actually comes when a volume (bolus) of anesthetic solution is delivered to an area and causes tissue expansion. The act of the liquid expanding the tissue is what causes the burning sensation. As the anesthetic takes effect, this pain (and all other sensation) goes away.
Single tooth anesthesia works by precisely controlling the amount of anesthetic going into the tissues and the time it takes to deliver the anesthetic. In other words the anesthetic is delivered ever so slowly and just ahead of the tip of the needle, one drop at a time. This controls tissue expansion and takes the sting out of injections. You truly have to not feel it to believe it.
Sounds perfect, what’s the catch? STA is not indicated for all dental procedures. It does still require a needle, but it’s a short one and it’s attached to a cute little plastic wand rather than a stainless steel syringe. Patients sometimes report a little more soreness at injection sites versus traditional block injections. Single tooth anesthesia tends to wear off quicker as well, which can be a plus or a minus depending on the length of the procedure. Overall, though, most patients have preferred the experience over traditional dental injections.
If the fear of the needle or the sting of a shot has kept you from getting your teeth fixed, ask your dentist about STA next time you are in the office. You’ll be glad you did.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.